A Brief Introduction to Zoom:
Zoom is a free app, or program that is available for your laptop, desktop, tablet or smart phone. Zoom allows multiple people to participate in video teleconferencing simultaneously and is like a massive FaceTime, or Google Duo program. In the free version of Zoom, users can schedule small, personal “meetings” for limited number of participants. The first level Zoom subscription allows for up to 100 participants simultaneously. For most users, the free version is completely adequate.
As a participant, Zoom is very easy to use. You will receive an email invitation to participate and a single link will be provided. Near the time of the scheduled online meeting, all you need to do is click on this link. Your web browser will bring up the scheduled event, and will probably ask you if you want to convert the request to the Zoom App. The Zoom App is the preferred way to participate, rather than your web browser. You can download a current version of Zoom from your app store on your individual device. Again, there is absolutely no need to buy the Pro version unless you intend to host large group meetings. Once in the Zoom link, you will be asked for a passcode (after September 27th, 2020) and you must enter that exactly to be admitted to the session. The passcode will be on the same invitation that you receive announcing the meeting and giving the link.
Whatever camera your device uses, as well as its microphone and speakers will be used for you to listen in to the session, as well as asking questions. If you have them, a web cam and separate microphone can be selected in Zoom to be used, by clicking on the up arrow next to microphone or video in the lower right hand corner of the Zoom screen, and then selecting the device you want to be active.
Again, in the minutes before a meeting is to start, click on the link you receive from the meeting host and you will be taken into the meeting. On your screen find a mic and video screen icon. You need to use these to mute your own microphone and initiate or cancel your video. You need to run the Zoom App in advance of the meeting to test your microphone and speakers, as well as you can see the video your camera will send out to other attendee’s. There are also two views that can be used, and there will be a click on to take you into those views, usually at the top right of your screen. These will read “Gallery View” or “Speaker View”. Gallery view will show screens with all the participants in little boxes all at once, or with a limit of a certain number per screen and scrolling to other screens of attendees. Speaker view will show in full screen the person who is capturing the audio signal of the conference. This is why it Is essential to keep your own microphone muted during the meeting, unless you are ready to speak. Please note that the conference host can mute all other members, as well as “spotlight” individual participants into full screen for all viewers. Note: Gallery View and Speaker view are changed in the newest version of the Zoom App and are now more intuitive as icons but do essentially the same thing as before.
There are two ways to ask questions in Zoom sessions: first there is a chat icon and words in the center bottom of most screens, and second is a Q&A click on just next to the chat icon. Click on them and type in a comment or question. The host of other delegate will see the request and deal with getting an answer. You can also click “raise hand” and you can be called on by the host to ask a question of make a comment orally to the entire group. If anyone tries to put up inappropriate visual or voice material, the host has the ability to remove that individual from the meeting. No political, religious, or other “partisan” comments or visuals are allowed on our Zoom sessions. Warnings can be issued, or you can immediately be removed from the meeting, depending on the degree of transgression. It is strongly hoped that this will not be needed.
For show and tell sessions, the host can grant individual participants screen sharing privilege and you can either hold up a work to your camera, or you can screen share exactly what is on your computer screen, with pre-shot pictures of your work. Again, anything that is on your screen at the time of screen sharing is visible to all other participants, so understand that completely before requesting screen sharing.
Please be aware that practicing with Zoom makes your more proficient with it, and what it can do for a club like ours. We cannot answer individual problems once a program or meeting starts. Anyone that wants to share screen (to show pictures of their turnings for instance) should practice doing that in a practice session.
We will be using Zoom as our meeting format until we resume in person meetings. Even then, we may live screen meetings for members unable to attend, whether from distances too far to travel for our meetings, or weather conditions prohibiting attendance. In general, live screening will only be made available to current members of INW and not to guests.
The process of hosting and putting on virtual meetings via Zoom can be “complicated”. The Host and the demonstrator need to coordinate well, and various equipment may be needed for each to properly engage to maximize audio and visual usefulness of a session. The needs to the usual attendee/participant are easy and almost any device can be used as long as Zoom is able to be downloaded and run on that platform.
The Board of INW views this as an interesting “growing pains” time period for the club. Though we love our in-person meetings, with raffles and in-person demonstrations, there is considerable value to having remote interactive demonstrations and other meetings. We hope you will look at this with us as a positive attempt to maintain interest, interaction, and learn new skills in woodturning.